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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

The Age of Adaline
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a suggestive comment
Release Date:
April 24, 2015

 

Cake
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality
Release Date:
January 24, 2015

The Water Diviner
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for war violence including some disturbing images
Release Date:
April 24, 2015

 

Big Eyes
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Monkey Kingdom
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

 

Wild
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
Release Date:
December 5, 2014

New in Theaters

grade:
B

The Age of Adaline

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a suggestive comment
Release Date:
April 24, 2015
grade:
B-

The Water Diviner

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for war violence including some disturbing images
Release Date:
April 24, 2015
grade:
B+

Monkey Kingdom

Lowest Recommended Age:
Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Cake

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality
Release Date:
January 24, 2015
grade:
B+

Big Eyes

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014
grade:
B+

Wild

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
Release Date:
December 5, 2014

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Thirteen

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2003

They say that the two worst years of a woman’s life are the year she is 13 and the year her daughter is.

We get to experience both at once in this film about a 7th grader named Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) who is catapulted into self-destructive behavior because she wants so badly to be accepted, to be cool, and to numb some of the pain of growing up. It was co-written by 13-year-old Nikki Reed, who plays the friend Tracy is so desperate to impress.

Tracy lives with her brother Mason (Brady Corbet) and their mother, Mel (Holly Hunter), a loving but damaged recovering alcoholic who does her best to support the family.

On the first day of 7th grade, there are always a couple of kids who really hit the puberty jackpot over the summer. Just as the rest are at their most clumsy, insecure, and vulnerable, those impossibly sure and golden kids appear to have arrived at the destination while everyone else is still trying to find the map.

Adults of any age are likely to still be carrying around the vision of their own perfect 7th grade classmates and how inadequate they felt by comparison. It somehow is not much comfort that not only did those kids themselves not feel as together as we thought, but that they were surpassed soon after by the late bloomers, who had to work a little bit to get there and thus have more staying power.

For Tracy, it is Evie (co-screenwriter Reed) who seems to have everything she desires. So when Evie introduces her to drugs (taking them and selling them), shoplifting, body-piercing, lying, and sex, it seems a small price to pay for feeling accepted or, to use a word that is only used about teen-agers or celebrities, “popular.”

Reed and first-time director/co-screenwriter Catherine Hardwicke have given this film great strengths — particularly its authenticity of detail (Hardwicke’s past career as a production designer really helps) and its genuine commitment, even tenderness, toward its subject matter. This really shows in the performances. Hunter is fearless in revealing Mel’s fragility, her generosity, and the deep, deep love for her children that grounds her. Wood (of television’s “Once and Again”) is breathtakingly open; every ounce of the joy and anguish she feels is in heart-breaking relief on her face. Wood shows us Evie’s wounded child inside the cool manipulator. The script has some particularly subtle and perceptive moments, especially when Tracy’s father keeps asking for the problem to be explained to him “in a nutshell.”

On the other hand, it would be nice if Tracy didn’t have to take on every single one of every parent’s worst nightmares; in addition to substance abuse, sexual involvement, lying, stealing, and failing in school, she develops an eating disorder and cuts herself. There are enough teenage problems in this movie to fill a decade’s worth of after-school-specials. But the film’s weaknesses are the weaknesses of youth and inexperience, and that is actually very appropriate for the subject matter.

Parents should know that the R rating comes from frank and explicit — but thoughtful — treatment of the subject matter. This is just another example of the failings of the MPAA rating system, because there are comedies that refer to all of the same issues that are rated PG-13. This movie is far better for teenagers because it deals forthrightly with the consequences of the behavior it depicts.

Characters constantly use very strong language. Teenagers engage in every possible self-destructive behavior — they smoke, take drugs, steal, lie, and pierce their tongues and belly buttons. They have sex that is so casual it is almost anonymous. There is also adult substance abuse and bad behavior. There are very tense family confrontations.

Families who see this movie should talk about how easy it was for Tracy to slip away from everything she had learned. Why was Evie’s friendship so important to her? Why was Tracy important to Evie? Why was it so hard for Mel to say no to anyone?

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Smooth Talk and Foxes.

Bad Boys II

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003
D
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2003

The old-fashioned real-deal movie star charm of Will Smith can occasionally be glimpsed somewhere inside this overlong cacaphony of car chases, shoot-em-ups, and explosions. It is impossible not to watch him and almost impossible not to smile while doing so.

But that’s about the only smile in this generic but mind-numbingly loud and violent summer action movie, more theme park stunt spectacular than story.

Martin Lawrence and Smith reprise their roles from 1995’s “Bad Boys” as buddy cops who toss off wisecracks in between rounds of ammunition. They are cast against type with Martin as Marcus, the worrying family man and Smith as Mike, the go-for-it playa. This time, Marcus’ sister (played by the gorgeously talented Gabrielle Union), a DEA agent, is in town, but hasn’t told her brother that (1) she is working undercover on a dangerous investigation and (2) she is romantically involved with Mike. Meanwhile, Marcus and Mike have smashed up most of the cars in LA but have not yet made any progress on tracking down the drug dealer they are after. And many, many, many, many more cars will be smashed and many attempts at humor will crash before they do.

Director Michael Bay (“Armageddon” and “The Rock”) can shoot action sequences and stunts, though he tries a little too hard to be John Woo. He is less successful at making it worth caring about, especially when it veers into the truly preposterous with a massive invasion of Cuba at the end. For anyone other than hard-core action fans it just gets overwhelming and finally a little tedious. It also makes the fatal mistake of forgetting to include a memorable or interesting villain. Instead we get a stereotyped paranoid drug dealer who is overly attached to his mother and daughter.

Parents should know that the movie pushes the R rating to almost the NC-17 level with very graphic violence. At one point a truck filled with naked dead bodies is hit so that it opens up and spills the bodies all over the street, so that they are hit by other cars. The top of a corpse’s head comes off. A character is chopped up and presented to his partner in parts, with blood dripping out of him. A character is exploded by a land mine. There is extreme, extended peril and violence, and many deaths. Characters use extremely strong language with constant profanity, including racist terms. There are sexual references and situations, including references to impotence and rather homophobic humor. We also see some highly improbable animal sex. Characters drink, and smoke, and at one point it is supposed to be humorous when Marcus gets stoned on Ecstasy. Characters of many races show some prejudice but work together with respect and loyalty and a female character is strong, brave, and capable.

Families who see this movie should talk about how different people decide which risks they will take.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and car chase and explosion movies like “The Transporter” and “Con Air”.

How to Deal

posted by rkumar
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2003
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Movie Release Date: 2003

Pop star Mandy Moore plays a teenager in this movie based on two popular books by Sarah Dessen.

The books’ fans — and Moore’s — will enjoy the movie, which puts its heroine through the full obstacle course of adolescence, including coping with her parents’ divorce and subsequent romances, the ups and downs of her sister’s wedding plans, the death of a classmate, a pregnant best friend, and a romance of her own.

But those not already committed to the star or the books will find the movie hard going, because director Claire Kilner and screenwriter Neena Beeber demonstrate stunning ineptitude in translating written material to the screen. The story, the characters, and the relationships seem to go in completely different directions from scene to scene. Without knowing what’s in the books, it is not episodic; it is incoherent. And the dialogue is just painful. Deal me out.

Moore plays Halley (named for the comet), hurt and angry because her radio-host father has left her mother for a younger woman. She thinks her sister’s new engagement to a straight-laced young man as the divorce becomes final and her father announces (on his radio show) his own marriage plans is insensitive. When her best friend’s boyfriend dies very suddenly, it seems to Halley that love can never work out well. So she tries to ignore her feelings for Macon (Trent Ford), a guy whose primary appeal seems to be the fact that most of his face is hidden by his bangs.

Moore is appealing and she showed some screen presence in “The Princess Diaries” and “A Walk to Remember”. But in this movie she only shows two different facial expressions, and one looks like she has just sucked on a lemon.

Alison Janney (Halley’s mother) and Dylan Baker (her new love interest) do their best not to appear to be slumming, even when Baker is called on to wear a Civil War Uniform while stocking a vending machine. But the movie keeps tripping itself up on idiotic developments that are supposed to be comic, like Halley’s pot-smoking grandmother (played by 1940’s movie star Nina Foch) and the stuffy family of the sister’s fiance, and idiotic developments that are supposed to be touching (like a car accident). And it also has the worst costume design of any movie in decades.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language, and teen smoking and drinking. The grandmother’s use of marijuana is portrayed as humorous. Halley’s friend and her boyfriend have sex and she becomes pregnant. Halley begins to have sex with her boyfriend, but then stops because she says she does not want to care too much about him. Halley’s sister comes home drunk from a bachelorette party with a male stripper’s underwear around her neck.

Families who see this movie should talk about how it can be hard to take emotional risks — but harder not to.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “A Walk to Remember”.

Spy Kids 3D: Game Over

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2003
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date: 2003

To be scrupulously fair to the sensibilities of its target audience, I must admit that halfway through this movie my 8-year-old godson leaned over to me and whispered, “This is AWESOME!” I wish I could say that I felt the same way.

I loved the first two “Spy Kids” movies, which combined brilliantly imaginative visual effects, thrilling (but not too scary) action, silly fun, and a lot of heart. With this last in the series, writer-director-editor-producer-composer Robert Rodriguez is either so enthralled or so overwhelemed by the 3-D technology that he forsakes the essentials of plot and character. The movie is just non-stop loud, hurtling, special effects.

The story has something to do with a computer game called “Game Over” designed by an evil man called the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone). Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega) has become somehow lost in the game. If her brother Juni (Daryl Sabara) cannot shut down the game before it goes on the market, the game will enable the Toymaker to take over the world or bring about the end of the world, or something like that.

Most of the movie is just one long computer game, with one set of pixels fighting another. In the game, Juni meets up with beta testers and battles Demetra (Courtney Jines) in gladiator-style combat. He develops a crush in both senses of the word as he slams her avatar-robot around in between gazing longingly at the way that fetching lock of hair keeps falling in front of her determined but sparkling eyes.

The special effects may be in 3-D, but the story is flat, and there is very little of the quirky humor of the first two. We also miss the characters of the first two. Many of them appear only in brief cameos that are merely distracting. Stallone plays four parts, all of them badly.

Parents should know that there is constant action violence. A character explodes. As in the first movie, one of its strongest points is the portrayal of minority, disabled, and female characters.

Families who see this movie should talk about Juni’s grandfather, who wants people to look at him when he is in his wheelchair the same way they do when he can walk. They should also discuss what he says to the Toymaker about forgiveness. The Toymaker’s game has “the children’s attention” and wonders what they are learning. Who has your family’s children’s attention, and what are they learning? One interesting point that almost disappears in the noise is whether Juni is “the guy” a sort of chosen leader, like Neo in “The Matrix” or Luke in “Star Wars.” It is worth talking to kids about whether it matters to Juni, to the other kids in the game, or to the outcome if he is “the guy” or not. Families should also talk about the reality/perception/fantasy issues raised by the movie. Why is it important that the kids Juni meets in the game look so different when he meets them in real life?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2. They might also like to take a look at two other movies about going inside video games, Disney’s Tron and Super Mario Brothers. Both have outstanding special effects for their era, but, like this movie, have poor scripts.

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